Children With a Wild Streak by
Amy Cortez, Editor - The Eclectic Telegraph
read an article with the title: "Raise Children With a Wild
Streak" by Mark Pruett in the Charlotte Observer recently.
The article was a plea from a college admissions counselor wishing
for an interesting applicant. My reaction to the article was that
clearly not enough homeschoolers had applied to this college!
children with a wild streak by MARK PRUETT (Charlotte Observer)
Posted on Mon, Oct. 16, 2006
Many `ideal' students lack inventive, restless and self-reliant
In general you will find that homeschooled student will have a
wild streak, after all they are making a political statement simply
by not being in a school. A homeshooled student is easy to spot
in a group. They'll be the one wearing not-too-trendy clothes,
describing an experience with a wild look of enthusiasm in their
eyes. Homeschool parents are typically the catalyst for the child
with the wild streak as we are the biggest fans of thinking outside
the box. Though we try to stay fashionable, we'll also describe
an experience with a wild look of enthusiasm in our eyes.
There have been many times we go to museums and have the interesting
encounter of the mobs of screaming elementary school children
being herded by walkie-talkie toting adults. Often the docents
in these places recognize us as homeschoolers and will tell me
how well behaved and interested in the exhibits our students seem.
It its difficult for me to imagine what Mr. Pruett was referring
to in his article regarding docile, uninteresting college applicants
in this situation, but as I begin to look at high school age students
in the same situation, they are much different. Perhaps it is
years of being herded, perhaps it is years of uninteresting study,
perhaps it is coming down off the Ritalin. Who knows why some
high school students seem to disappear. I do observe that many
people, the system in general, teachers and parents are trying
"get control" of school students through drugs and I
find that pretty alarming.
In general, a "wild streak" can be considered a bad
thing, especially when we read about the high occurrence of ADHD
in our schools. Though I recognize that ADHD can be valid conclusions
for some children, I can see in my gifted student how ADHD could
be misdiagnosed. I had a teacher in an expensive private school
tell me she thought my student was ADD. (Little did we know at
the time he was highly gifted.) It's when parents permit school
teachers be the child psychologists that we start to have the
misdiagnosis of ADD/ADHD problems, I think. That's when the wild
streak starts to disappear. The wild streak also begins to disappear
when our children are not permitted, or encouraged to think on
When left to their own devices, kids will be kids, as flighty
as bumble bees and as amazing as seeing the Green
Flash over the Gulf of Mexico at sunset. Give a kid a day
with nothing to do and no electronics and watch what happens,
they'll invent something interesting to them to do. Have parents
forgotten the wonder of being a child?
As always I have to remember, my reference point is a highly gifted
visual spatial learner. Sometimes these kinds of kids are misdiagnosed
with ADHD. This sort of learner is very intense in tasks, is very
precise in explanations and can jump from explanations I understand
to pretty divergent ideas and solutions. To the casual observer,
this can seem to be an attention deficit. I have learned, is the
path this gifted student takes to learning. Being a not-highly-gifted,
sequential learner, this means days are going to be challenging,
so we make them fun. We try to find an unusual approach to our
story I can tell you of my student with a wild streak is when
we were in Florida with my parents several years ago. When we
travel, we stick to trying to do our "formal' studies (math,
Latin) in the early morning so we can spend the rest of the day
exploring and learning in the world. Now my student can be as
much of a kid-with-a-wild-streak as the next and on this particular
day, he decided having coffee and reading the paper with grandpa
was far more "educational" than was the Math or the
Latin of the day. Upon learning that this work had not been completed
when we were getting to leave for the Historic Bok Sanctuary,
I strongly suggested to my student, so that he would not "get
behind" in his Math and Latin, that he bring his books and
he could find a nice place in this garden to complete his studies.
He less than enthusiastically packed a bag and put it in the car.
It wasn't until we arrived at our destination that I realized
this bag was roughly 15 pound as the books are very thick ( I
would have backed away from the suggestion to work in the garden
had I known!). He proceeded to schlep this bag throughout the
Historic Bok Sanctuary until he found just the right place to
work. He completed that days work and the work for the rest of
the week as he decided, coffee and paper with grandpa was how
he was going to spend his mornings in Florida.
- Historic Bok Sanctuary offers visitors Florida's most
abundant opportunities for aesthetic, cultural and personal
enrichment. The lush landscapes of the Olmsted gardens,
the majesty and music of the carillon tower and the splendor
of Pinewood Estate create an experience that inspires all
Wonder of Boys
by Michael Gurian
Review: Yes, boys and girls are different, says Washington
state family therapist Gurian (Mothers, Sons and Lovers),
urging that society learn how to deal creatively with
gender-specific needs. In considering the cultural effects
of heightened gender consciousness, Gurian warns of the
dangers of "enmeshing male development with a female
culture in transition." Outlining biological differences,
he explains that boys are "hard-wired" to possess
certain traits. Because of male brain chemistry and the
hormone testosterone, boys are apt, for example, to relish
risk-taking and to be physically aggressive and competitive
(violence, he claims is not hard-wired, but learned through
This clear and valuable book dispels a variety of myths
about attention deficit disorder (ADD).Although ADD can
generate a host of problems, there are also advantages
to having it, advantages that this book will stress, such
as high energy, intuitiveness, creativity, and enthusiasm,
and they are completely overlooked by the 'disorder' model."
The authors go on to cite Mozart and Einstein as examples
of probable ADD sufferers. Although they warn against
overdiagnosis, they also do a convincing job of answering
the criticism that "everybody, and therefore nobody"
Nation: Are We Killing Our Children? by John W. Whitehead, The Rutherford
This year, approximately six million children—roughly
one out of every eight—will take Ritalin for what
is termed “attention-deficit/hyperactive disorder”
(ADHD), a condition that was once labeled hyperactivity.
However, the drugs that are prescribed for ADHD are cocaine-like
stimulants. And according to the U.S. Drug Enforcement
Administration (DEA), the human nervous system cannot
differentiate between cocaine, amphetamines and methylphenidate
Since ADHD hit the mainstream in the 1980s, prescriptions
for Ritalin have skyrocketed. And over the past three
years, there has been a 23 percent increase for all children,
including those under 5 years of age. However, as the
DEA reports, not only is Ritalin a dangerous narcotic,
it also has numerous, troublesome side effects: difficulty
sleeping, loss of appetite, irritability, nervousness,
stomach aches, headaches, blurry vision, nausea, dizziness,
drowsiness, ticks, hypersensitivity, anorexia, blood pressure
and pulse changes, cardiac arrhythmia, anemia, scalp hair
loss and toxic psychosis. Other rare side effects include
abnormal liver function, cerebral arteritis, leucopenia
and sometimes death.
Review: These three books explore the controversial phenomena
of ADHD, which affects two million children in the United
States, where about 80 percent of all Ritalin is consumed.
Walker, a neurologist/psychiatrist, contends that parents
are often intimidated into accepting Ritalin for their
children before a complete diagnosis is made and more
benign therapies tried. He posits many other causes of
hyperactivity, evaluates nondrug therapies, and suggests
ways parents can become advocates for their troubled children.
A Man Can Do, What A Man Can't Do. by
Amy Cortez, Editor - The Eclectic Telegraph
you are homeschooling a gifted student, you see it at least once a week,
and sometimes, daily. I know I do. Your student will be chugging along,
full speed ahead on a task and then stops cold. Or, perhaps they just
don't start the task at all and as the master procrastinator, give you
many very intelligent reasons why they haven't started it yet, even displaying
those signs of ADD sometimes gifted students are misdiagnosed with, flitting
from one task to another, getting nowhere near the task at hand. When
I first started homeschooling, this phenomenon dumbfounded me. How could
a kid this smart just fall apart on a task like this one? It wasn't until
I started reading in detail about giftedness that I realized this is what
perfectionism looks like on the surface.
favorite movie scene of mine and my student is from "Pirates of the
Caribbean". Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) and William Turner
(Orlando Bloom) have just stolen a ship from the British Royal Navy and
Captain Jack has Will Turner hanging on the main boom out over the water
describing that Will's father was a pirate. Will is not happy at that
idea and continues to dangle over the ocean as Captain Jack says, There
are only two things in life worth worrying about. What a man can
do and what a man can't do. To us, this phrase translates basically
to having the courage to face a demon, no matter what it is. This is a
phrase I use often in our homeschool.
There are many twists and turns to perfectionism as I have read and observed,
but the perfectionist does have an Achilles heel, they want to know it's
OK to NOT be perfect in every task and they want you
to encourage them to have the courage to move forward.
window into the world of the perfectionist I have found is by using the
sentiment Captain Jack used on Will Turner and that is the idea that a
man can complete the task and enjoy the journey, the discoveries along
the way and the joy of accomplishment, or he can choose to never get started
on the journey and totally miss out. How smart is that? The trick to the
perfectionist, I have found, is to give them a realistic goal, get them
started, check on the progress of the process, not the product, and to
celebrate the completion of the process.
suppose that's great in theory, but try applying it to homeschooling.
Getting the perfectionist to write that essay when he thinks he can't
write perfectly is a good trick. But here is what I have found in dealing
with a perfectionist.
the perfectionist is working for the praise of doing a task very well
and not the joy of the accomplishment.
perfectionist measures himself by the quality of the work he has done
and not by the genuine effort applied.
perfectionist is going to focus on the mistakes, there may be 50 victories
and 2 errors in aproject, it's the errors they are going to fixate on.
job as a mentor to this kind of student is to untangle these ideas, which
is not easy, but achievable. Dealing with perfectionism on a day to day
basis is incredibly frustrating, but the thing I always try to remember
is that it has got to be even more frustrating for the perfectionist.
Remind your student that perfect is a fine goal, but that there really
is joy in the activity or task itself and to think about that idea as
he progresses through a task. Remind your student daily that you enjoy
and accept who they are and how they are no matter what. Acknowledge and
praise the effort before you get into the outcome. Teach your student
to enjoy the accomplishments and the positive aspects of the task first
before he moves on to the flaws.
researchers, and parents often observe perfectionist behaviors in
gifted students. It comes as no surprise, since these students are
bombarded daily by parents, teachers, peers, and an entertainment
industry that rewards them and encourages them to make the highest
grade, produce a perfect painting, give a flawless performance,
and gain admission into the best college. What are the characteristics
of a perfectionist? Is perfectionism helpful or detrimental to a
student’s success? What can be done to help students who place
too much importance on perfection?
Some researchers believe that there are two types of perfectionism:
healthy or normal perfectionism, and unhealthy or neurotic perfectionism...
is not about doing our best. It's not about the struggle for excellence,
or the healthy striving for high goals. Perfectionism is about believing
that if we can just do something perfectly, other people will love
and accept us-and if we can't, we'll never be good enough. Perfectionism
is a burden that takes a heavy toll. Personal relationships are
strained. Intimacy is elusive. Work seems overwhelming. Creativity
slows to a trickle. Physical exhaustion is common. Perfectionism
is painful and debilitating-a no-win situation. As parents, we influence
our children's emotional development. The bad news is, our own attitudes
about love, acceptance, success, and failure can create an environment
that promotes perfectionism. The good news is, we can make positive
changes that will enrich our children's lives-and our own.